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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 15:05 GMT
Hamza guilty of inciting murder
Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza has been found guilty on 11 of the 15 charges he faced
Controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has been found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of using his sermons to incite murder and race hate charges.

Abu Hamza, who preached at Finsbury Park Mosque, London, was found guilty of 11 of the 15 charges he faced.

The cleric, 47, was also found guilty of having audio and video tapes intended to encourage racial hatred and having a document for terror purposes.

US authorities are seeking his extradition for terror-related matters.

He is wanted on charges of trying to set up a "terrorist training camp" in the state of Oregon.

Guilty of 6 charges of soliciting to murder
Guilty of 3 charges related to "stirring up racial hatred"
Guilty of 1 charge of owning recordings related to "stirring up racial hatred"
Guilty of 1 charge of possessing "terrorist encyclopaedia"
Not guilty of 3 charges of soliciting to murder
Not guilty of 1 charge related to "stirring up racial hatred"

Following the decision by the Old Bailey jury, Abu Hamza will be sentenced shortly.

The Egyptian-born preacher, who was arrested in May 2004, was said to have given inflammatory sermons that used unequivocal language.

Following his arrest, more than 3,000 audio cassettes and 600 videos were found of speeches intended for wider distribution.

And a terror manual - an encyclopaedia of Afghani Jihad - found at his west London home listed Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty as possible targets for an attack.

A search of Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, also led to the discovery of forged passports, CS gas, knives, guns capable of firing blanks and tents.

Police tactics

BBC Home Editor Mark Easton said police believed the mosque was "linked to literally dozens of terrorist plots around Europe and beyond".

He pointed out that police confiscated the terror manual from Abu Hamza in 1999, before later returning it to him.

Mr Easton went on: "The debate now will be about the tactics used by the police, by the security services and others to keep an eye on the mosque over many years, knowing that there certainly were links to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere."

Jurors watched about 20 hours of video tapes of the cleric's sermons.

Behaviour like Abu Hamza's is not a legitimate exercise in free speech - in fact it deliberately threatens openness and diversity
Ken Macdonald QC
Director of Public Prosecutions

The court heard him describe Jews as the "enemy of Islam", tell followers to "bleed" the enemies of Islam and they should not rest until they created a "Muslim state".

The jury heard that he did not aim his vitriolic rhetoric only against Jews, unbelievers and the democratic West.

In Abu Hamza's numerous lectures and sermons, targets included homosexual vicars, the tourist industry, the royal family and women in bikinis.

His defence was that he was encouraging Muslims to stand up for themselves.

The prosecution had told the court that Abu Hamza was a recruiting sergeant for terrorism and murder.

David Perry, prosecuting, said the cleric made clear encouragements to kill when he gave lectures and sermons at the Finsbury Park Mosque and in Luton, Blackburn and Whitechapel, east London.

Terrorist encyclopaedia
Abu Hamza owned a terror encyclopaedia listing potential targets

The jury heard that Abu Hamza "was preaching terrorism, homicidal violence and hatred".

They also heard that the preacher had "used the most dangerous weapons available - a great religion, Islam, his position as a civic leader and the power of words, his own words".

Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC said Abu Hamza had preached "a dangerous mix of hatred and violence" that "had nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam as it is practised peacefully and tolerantly by millions of people in Britain and around the world".

He added: "Behaviour like Abu Hamza's is not a legitimate exercise in free speech. In fact it deliberately threatens openness and diversity.

"Where appropriate, prosecutors will not hesitate to bring further cases in this category in future."

Abu Hamza will remain at Belmarsh high security prison, where he has been held since his arrest.

See Abu Hamza preaching on the streets


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